Updated with further details. 12:49 p.m. 10/1/10
ANCHORAGE, Alaska - A survey of Alaska women about sexual assault and domestic violence found higher rates than indicated by crime reports, the Anchorage Daily News reported Friday.
The University of Alaska Anchorage Justice Center found that more than half the women surveyed had been victimized at some point in the life, and one in eight had been victimized in the past year.
The center surveyed 871 women by phone in May and June under a $280,000 state grant.
The new survey found:
- Almost 59 percent of the women surveyed said they had experienced physical violence or threats of it from a partner, or sexual violence from anyone, at some point in their lives. If that percentage holds true for the whole population about 145,000 Alaska women have been victimized, said Andre Rosay, Justice Center director and the lead researcher.
- Nearly 27 percent of the women said that over their lifetime they had had unwanted sex when they were drunk, high or passed out, and unable to consent. Almost as many had been sexually assaulted after being subjected to physical force or threats.
- During the year before the survey, close to 12 percent of the women said that they had experienced sexual violence or domestic violence or threats of it. About 9 percent said they had suffered physical violence at the hands of a partner including being slapped, kicked, pushed, beaten, burned or choked.
- Also in the past year, 2.5 percent said they had been sexually assaulted, which doesn't count those too disoriented to give consent because of drinking or drugs. That means an estimated 6,181 Alaska women had been victims of sexual assaults in one year's time, Rosay said. Of those, maybe 3,700 had been forced into vaginal sex, meeting the FBI definition of forcible rape used in crime reporting. In comparison, there were 503 forcible rapes reported to Alaska law enforcement in 2009, according to statistics collected by the state Department of Public Safety for the FBI uniform crime report.
Gov. Sean Parnell said the findings confirm that Alaska is in the midst of an epidemic of sexual and domestic violence.
"It really is the secret evil that is rotting us from the inside. It is something we don't talk about too much. It is done in the secrecy and privacy of homes," Parnell said Thursday.
He said his administration has been pushing to address the problem on several fronts including public education to prevent violence, tougher sentencing for abusers and more support for victim services such as shelters, he said. Some crime bills passed this year, and more work is needed, he said.